New York is currently hosting the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden for the 135th year. Approximately 2,500 dogs arrived in NYC for the two day event on February 14-15, 2011. Hotels around the city are making accommodations for their furry guests' comfort, and on the city streets, there are more four-footed pedestrians than usual.
The first Westminster show was held on May 8, 1877, making it the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the United States behind only the Kentucky Derby, which was first held in 1875. Dogs are judged against their breed standards, to see how close each dog matches the standard description of the ideal specimen of that breed. Standards may include references relating form to function in the performance of the job that the dog was bred for, and may also include items that seem somewhat arbitrary such as color, eye shape, tail carriage and more.
There are seven breed groups in the event - Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting, and Herding. The dogs compete at the breed level and winners of each breed advances into its respective group where more competitions await. The winning dog becomes "America's Dog" for the next year, and also becomes the world's newest single name celebrity. It begins its reign with a media tour on the day following the show with appearances on virtually all television network morning shows, a visit to the Observation Deck at the Empire State Building, and much more.
You can keep track of the various events and their winners at the official website.
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